Let’s Talk Bookish – Banning Books

Hello, hello my friends! I am back!! I’ll be publishing another post with all the explanation and stuff tomorrow (hopefully) so be on the look out for that! In the meanwhile…

Welcome to another Let’s Talk Bookish post! Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by me, where we discuss chosen topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.

Today’s topic is: Banning Books: A Bookish Sin or a Reasonable Act

I don’t know why I’ve never thought about this before, especially when there are banned books lists, and controversies all the time about whether a book should have been banned by XYZ school district or not. But I’m thinking about it now, so let’s jump right in.

*disappears to do some research*

Okay. So I’ve read the American Library Association’s page on banned books, and took a look at the list of books that were challenged/banned in 2018.

And by challenged, it means that there was a formal complaint and an attempt to remove the book. Banned means that it was actually removed.

Something that seems to be common with all these books that are being challenged or banned is the fact that the book allegedly contains sexual or vulgar content, or “controversial” topics such as LGBTQIA+ issues, or different representations that show what it’s like for that rep group to live in this world (think The Hate U Give).

Most of these challenges are lead by parents who complain about the reading material being provided in their child’s school or library.

And in some cases, I think they have a point.

Some of these books are definitely not in the right places. For instance, a young adult novel should not be given to middle school children. (And middle school means 6th, 7th, and 8th grade.)

For instance, Looking For Alaska by John Green was challenged by a parent of an eighth grade student. Administration removed the book immediately and a representative said it was because the book had descriptions of pornography, and included smoking and an ending that seems to suggest a possible suicide (qtd. in ALA Field Report 2018).

I understand that. It’s seriously ridiculous that some of these books being challenged/banned are YOUNG ADULT novels in middle schools. Who puts YA novels in middle schools?? Like really?? And then you’ll complain when parents want you to remove them? (Some other middle school had The Hate U Give. Come on guys. Really??)

These books have much more mature topics and themes, and I think it’s better if they are placed in high schools instead. If a middle schooler is extremely mature and ready to tackle these kinds of topics, then fine, they can go find them at the library outside of school and read them on their own.

What I don’t understand though, is parents complaining about YA books being given to high school students. (And High School is 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade.) I’m pretty sure that YA is for high school students, and I don’t understand why you’re complaining about your 10th grade Honors English student reading Beartown by Fredrik Backman (also from the ALA’s list).

They’re in 10th grade. Honors English. Not even normal English. If they don’t get exposed to the horrors of the world now (which I’m telling you, your kids are probably not as innocent as you think, so this is probably nothing new to them at all), and in a more controlled and constructive way by reading a book together in a class with a teacher before they leave high school, when do you expect them to?

Aside from books being given to the wrong age group of students or being shelved in the wrong place, I think the rest of these bans and challenges are ridiculous. Really ridiculous.

And because I believe I am highly comical, here’s an open letter to people who suppose that banning or censorship is okay.

Dear Censor,

You can’t control what the world reads.

You can’t control what your state or country reads.

You can’t control what your city reads.

You can’t control what your tiny town and community reads.

It. Just. Can’t. Happen.

If you don’t want to read a book, and you don’t want your family to read it, FINE. Don’t pick it up at the library. Tell your kids to put it back if they pick it up and hopefully have a good explanation about why you don’t want them to read it.

But you can’t go to the district or state or library board, or whoever, and demand that the book be removed, or worse, try to hide them in the library’s vast shelves, or even worse, borrow the books then burn them live on Facebook (ALA’s List).

It’s also unfair to censor the kind of books available for kids.

Including more LGBTQIA+ books or more diverse books with characters from all over the world and from different religions and such that are written specifically for an age group, and there is nothing wrong with the book (ex. it doesn’t contain vulgar language and it’s supposed to be a book for 5 year olds) besides your personal dislike for it, is OKAY.

Actually it’s more than OKAY.

It should be the reality, not something that one has to applaud and cheer and dance and sing about when they see it happen.

You may not believe in the book’s message, and you may disapprove, but you don’t have the right to demand that it be removed all together, because there are other people who are less close-minded than you who may want to expose their children to this at a young age so they can grow up to be better and more tolerant and accepting people.

You’re not the book police; you’re not the censorship police.

And by the way, if you didn’t know since you may have a much nobler name for it, what you are doing is censoring books. And censorship is wrong.

Imagine if I were to take your completely un-diverse, completely uncontroversial, completely bland books about happy girl meets happy boy and they fall in love and decide to ban them all because they don’t show the actual reality of the world.

Would be absolutely outrageous wouldn’t it?

You have the right to read what you want. You have the right to read stories that don’t show the true reality of the world. You have the right to read perfectly average and “normal” and bland books that aren’t “controversial”.

Well guess what. The rest of the world has that same. lovely. privilege. too.

And your claims that these books that you want to ban are so called propaganda or are “heavy duty indoctrination” (ALA’s list) are ludicrous, because your attempt to censor them IS a form of propaganda and heavy duty indoctrination that results in intolerant close-minded people.

Sorry. Let’s reword that.

That can result in intolerant close-minded people. Some people change and break free of everything they were taught to realize the world isn’t totally black and white and that there are so many shades of grey, it’s blinding.

So while I feel you when you don’t want your wonderful middle schooler reading sexually explicit or profanity filled books, or novels that have open endings regarding suicide, and I do agree that these books should be in high schools where most children are more mature and can understand this content better especially since these are usually YA books, I don’t understand your attempts to ban them for forever, or when you attempt to remove these books because they show the reality of the world and society’s history that you don’t like or because the author’s opinion is different from your own.

I also don’t understand your attempt to ban these books especially since that wonderful high schooler who you are trying to stop from reading this “bad” book is probably a few years away from becoming an adult and having to forge their own path in this wonderfully beautiful world.

Actually, I’m sure it’s a much better idea to leave them blind and unknowing and believing that everyone is a good Samaritan, that all police are blameless and that nobody has ever been unfairly killed or beaten by some cops, that there is something wrong with people who are LGBTQIA+ or that Muslims, Hindus, Asians, Blacks and every other minority is bad, and that the normal and right thing is for everyone to be white, straight, Christian, going to church on Sunday’s kind of people.

Because that makes our world wonderful.

Sincerely yours,

A badly sarcastic high school student who should probably not be reading all these propaganda filled books since they’ve obviously messed with her head.

This Week’s Participants:

Vicki @ Diverse Fantasy Reads | Dani @ Literary Lion

*face-palm* I think my sarcasm is more cringey than actually good, but hey, I had fun!! And you all obviously know by now what my thoughts are regarding this, so it’s a win-win for everyone.

What do you think? Did you like my open letter? Please let me know if you were dying from cringe so that I don’t embarrass myself like this again in the future.

What are your thoughts regarding banning books? Do you think it is okay with certain books? Do you see where the parents are coming from sometimes, or do you think that books shouldn’t be banned at all? What’s your favorite “banned” book? Chat with me in the comments below!

16 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish – Banning Books

  1. I really loved reading your perspective on this topic, Rukky! The letter at end was too good πŸ₯Ί. Banning books is truly unproductive because people will find a way to read what they want, and in some cases, banning a book may make people more curious to read it πŸ˜….

    I understand where you’re coming from when you say that YA can have explicit content that shouldn’t be available to middle schoolers. However, I don’t think these books should necessarily be banned from middle schools. On one hand, parents and faculty have a responsibility to protect the students from content that can be distressing to learn about at a young age. But on the other hand, many middle schoolers are exposed to what profanity, pornography, and even suicide is from their peers, internet, and in some cases, other faculty members. I used to work in a middle school, and the things I would hear the students conversing with their friends about were really disturbing, particularly because they were very misinformed.

    Growing up, I know that I was introduced to plenty of sensitive topics in school too, but when these things weren’t being discussed in the classroom or at home, the books in the school library were where I could find constructive narratives that allowed me to feel comfortable enough to question the virtue of the sensitive topics. There was a public library in my town, but I didn’t have the means to visit and borrow books from it. The school library was the only place I could access books, and I would hide there during lunch doing just that hahaha.

    It’s a slippery slope because you can’t tell if every student is ready for YA content, but I also think it’s also a disservice to ban YA books from the students who learn and find solidarity in them πŸ™‚.

    Sorry, for this long reply πŸ˜…, but I really enjoyed this discussion!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your reply!! I’m so glad you enjoyed my post πŸ˜€ Haha yes, being told not to do something makes everybody itch to do it lol

      I understand your point too, and it makes a lot of sense. I think it mostly depends on the situation and parents/faculty have to be diligent and watchful(?). But yeah, some middle school students are ready for YA.
      I guess it’s like, we kind of pretend that middle schoolers are innocent, and they are young and hopefully some of them are truly innocent, and we don’t want to rock their world until they’re old enough/ready. Introducing YA books before they are can be a bit of a shock, and maybe not entirely a good idea.
      It’s definitely a slippery slope, and I guess it’s up to parents to watch what their kids borrow if they don’t want them reading it just yet. However, I was thinking about it more like as required reading. I don’t think schools should be giving YA as required reading. In the school library, well I see your point and I guess it’s not too bad. But required reading? No, definitely, I don’t think so.

      Aww, it’s okay! I’m glad you did! Happy reading πŸ’šβœ¨

      Liked by 1 person

  2. banned books are such a controversial topic, especially in today’s age where people have become sensitive to certain things or don’t want a certain narrative to be told. i definitely think there’s a difference when it comes to banning a book from a school compared to banning books from being published

    i think it’s valid for parents to complain about reading material that is not appropriate to be read by their child, especially when theyre younger. i don’t think anyone fights against that, middle schoolers should definitely be given to read from a certain age range. with that being said, i do think books are a great place to start a dialogue, especially for teenagers who are already experiencing things in the world and sometimes need direction or more formation

    a book like Beartown being read in highschool is fitting in my opinion, it’s hardhitting and terribly sad but it is also the reality teenagers face and i think they should be informed to a certain level.
    i had to read difficult books like To Kill a Mockingbird in highschool and I remember i was shocked to read some things but it also helped me understand bigger issues that impact the world.

    this is a really deep and strong post, thank you so much for writing it out and sharing your opinions, you’re always so eloquent with your thoughts and i enjoyed reading it so much!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, there is 100% a difference between the two. Honestly, I think these issues are blowing up more than before because there is a huge movement to diversify when there was always one “safe” narrative. So everyone’s getting touchy especially because these “new” narratives have “touchy” subjects, or subjects that are completely different from the norm.

      Doesn’t given anyone the right to ban them though. I just thought about the why lol

      Agreed. I can understand being touchy with younger kids, but in high school, it’s about time that kids know what the real world is like. You can’t shelter high schoolers anymore. They’re either experiencing these things first hand and don’t know how to deal with it (and the parents don’t know), or they will soon enough and like you said, books are a safe and great way to start a conversation.

      I really need to read Beartown, but I totally understand. Yeah, that’s the thing. I feel like parents don’t really realize that they’re kids are already experiencing this, that this isn’t necessarily anything new. I think they’re hurting the kids more by trying to ban them, making it feel like this is a topic that isn’t open for discussion (which can hurt many kids in so many ways!!).

      Aww, I’m touched!! Thank you so much for your reply ❀✨ Haha, I did not think this was eloquent at all, but thank you πŸ’š

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree where you said that books shouldn’t be banned! Censorship is bad and we should be reading about other experiences than ours!

    But I actually disagree that YA shouldn’t be in middle schools; lots of 7th and 8th graders, maybe even younger, read YA and I think most any YA book can be in a middle school library! A few friends and I personally read Looking for Alaska, checked out from my school library, in middle school when I was 13, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a bit more mature and shocking, but it wasn’t really that much worse than all the other YA everyone in my middle school and I were reading at the time–for instance, I read Hunger Games, which was pretty shocking with kids killing kids, in 6th grade, and basically EVERYONE at my school was reading it too (that was when the movie came out haha).

    I’m basically against any censorship or banning books. Let parents decide if the books are too mature for their individual kid, but leave them in libraries ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I think it’s fine for kids to read YA if they’re ready for it, but I don’t think it should be provided in the school library when it isn’t necessarily for that age group. I think that’s why the parents have a problem with it, and the school having the kids read the books, that’s not the best. If the kids want to read it outside of school, yes fine. But school is supposed to be like, idk how to say this lol. You can leave these book in the public libraries, but with schools, the kids are being asked to read these books and they don’t have much of a choice about it, so it’s understandable if some parents get upset because the content of the books. And if the books are technically YA then πŸ€·πŸ½β€β™€οΈ they really shouldn’t be asking middle school students to read it.

      That’s what I think anyway, and I’m glad to hear your opinion!! Thanks for reading ❀✨

      Like

  4. This is an amazing post, Rukky! I didn’t have the time to participate in LTB this week, but I am so glad that you wrote all this! Your letter to the censor is AMAZING!!! Ending the letter with; Sincerly yours, A badly sarcastic high school student who should probably not be reading all these propaganda filled books since they’ve obviously messed with her head. is so perfect. I hope your having a wonderful Friday!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with what you said πŸ’―

    Yes, there are certain situations in which a book shouldn’t be read (Kids reading YA) and other situations where it’s kinda ridiculous to ban a book (Young Adults reading YA) πŸ™Œ

    Also, If people don’t read about types of people other than themselves, how are they supposed to grown outside of their bubble? πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

    The other day I watched such a sad video… A guy was randomly interviewing people and asking them what are the followers of Islam are called and SOMEONE HAD THE AUDACITY TO SAY KOREANS *cue facepalm* πŸ˜­πŸ’€πŸ’€. Someone else said The Arabics πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚.

    I mean, we find it funny, but it’s kinda sad because it shows how uneducated and ignorant people are of ONE OF THE FASTEST GROWING RELIGIONS IN THE WORLD!!!! (Sorry I’m ranting πŸ™ˆ)

    Anyway, thanks for writing about this topic πŸ’•

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you do!! Exactly. I really though don’t understand how they put The Hate U Give or Looking For Alaska in a middle school. I really don’t πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

      Exactly my point! Everyone will grow up in this bubble and not know that the world can be a diverse wonderful place where we celebrate our differences.

      πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I’m dead πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I burst out laughing πŸ˜‚ That’s just…wow πŸ˜‚ I wonder if it was a joke though because….😐

      Lol, I understand your ranting. It’s okay. But yeah, I agree πŸ™‚

      Thanks for reading ❀✨

      Like

  6. This is such an important topic. I mean it’s a really controversial one at that. I definitely agree that YA books(not all of them though, because some of them do contain New Adult themes) can be read in High school. They can broaden one’s perspective and maybe lead a few to fall in love with books. And middle schoolers shouldn’t read YA, because that wouldn’t be appropriate! So when it comes to schools, I think they have the right to ban books, especially if the content is not beneficial in any way. As you mentioned,- everyone can read what they want to read in their free time. This includes middle schoolers reading YA or even NA (who can really control that ?!)
    Leaving our young generation blind is something I don’t support. So yeah, I definitely agree with (almost πŸ˜‰ ) everything you said !
    Great discussion ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hiya Syl!! Agreed, it is controversial and it was interesting to read your point. Like I said, it’s okay when it’s done to like, protect students (YA is NOT for middle school at all), but I don’t think it’s fair to ban them when they are age-appropriate. I think it would be more beneficial to talk about them in schools if they are age appropriate because then it will be done constructively and in a learning environment. It’s better than banning them, and then kids secretly reading them wondering why and coming to the “wrong” conclusions.
      But that’s just my opinion πŸ™‚ Thank you ✨❀

      Liked by 1 person

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